Posts for: October, 2012
Yes, dental x-rays are a safe and vital tool we use for measuring and monitoring your oral health. We feel it is imperative to ensure that our patients have the facts — especially when it comes to their oral healthcare. This is why we want to respond to this important question about the safety of dental x-rays.
We want you to know what they are, how they are used, what makes them a safe and effective tool, and why they are so important to dentistry and your health. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, in fact, just like natural daylight, except they have a much shorter wavelength. And because they are a form of ionizing radiation, they can easily penetrate bodily tissues without causing any harm when used properly. The reasons we use them are obvious; they help us literally see what is unseen. For example, they enable us to see bone structure and roots of teeth among other things, and are commonly used for diagnosing tooth decay. Furthermore, today's x-ray machines and other image capturing techniques are so sophisticated and sensitive that the amount of radiation required for diagnosis is almost nothing when compared to what you get from the background radiation present in everyday living. In fact, the average single digital periapical (“peri” – around; “apical” – root end of a tooth) film is equal to 1/10 the amount of everyday natural environmental exposure. These facts make it clear that dental x-rays are completely safe and, thus, are nothing you need to be concerned about.
We have noticed that there are two types of patients when it comes to enhancing a person's smile. One type, which we'll call the “Perfect Minded” patient, expects teeth that are completely regular in their arrangement and of maximum whiteness and brightness, often beyond the range of traditional guides for tooth color. They are looking for a perfect “Hollywood” smile. The other, the “Natural Minded” patient, is looking for a more natural look. This person expects a general sense of regularity and alignment of teeth with definite brightness, but not so much that the teeth are noticeable before and above other facial features. Which type are you?
The “Perfect Minded” Patient
While you expect maximum regularity and alignment of teeth along with maximum whiteness and brightness, the “perfect minded” patient requires a smile completely symmetrical (balanced from one side to the other). If we drew a vertical line down the center of your face (midline), it would fall directly between your front teeth and your smile would look just the same on each side of the line. You also expect your smile to be horizontally symmetric, so that it matches the curvature of your lower lip and the gum lines match from side to side.
The “Natural Minded” Patient
You are looking for a more subtle, natural look produced by including some minor irregularities in your look. Like the “Perfect Minded” individual, you still expect your teeth to be generally regular and well aligned but you also want to have some minor asymmetries (not matching) as you move farther back along your jaw to make your teeth look real. Your preference in tooth color is not a super shade of white, but for a tooth color that looks very natural for your facial skin and hair color.
There is no right or wrong here. What is important is to be sure to communicate your expectations to us before embarking on a program of smile redesign.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Design. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”
What does the term “two-implant overdentures” mean?
For more than a century, complete dentures were the only care option for edentulous (toothless) people. As a solution, these left a lot to be desired, particularly for the lower jaw. Now dental technology has developed a better alternative that combines two strategically placed dental implants and a traditional lower denture that has been modified to fit over the two implants — thus the term.
What are the problems with traditional dentures?
The problem is that when you lose teeth, the bone that supported the missing teeth begins to shrink away. This is known as resorption, and it is the reason that dentures fitted too soon after teeth are lost quickly become loose. Bone loss happens most rapidly during the first year and is four times greater in the lower jaw than in the upper.
Why not just use dental adhesives to hold dentures tightly to the lower jaw?
Zinc, a major ingredient in most dental adhesives, has been associated with neurological disorders and may be unsafe. In addition, dental adhesives are expensive and the cost of frequent usage adds up.
Besides dental adhesives, are other health problems associated with dentures?
Yes, edentulism has been related to poor nutrition. Many edentulous people switch to soft foods with high fat content because they find healthier foods like vegetables and proteins difficult to chew.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are replacements for the roots of teeth, the parts that are below the gumline and anchored in bone. They are usually covered with a crown that shows above the line of the gums.
What are the benefits of implants?
Most importantly, implants reduce the amount of bone resorption. Studies have shown about 75% less resorption in parts of the jaw with implants compared to areas without them. Since most of the bone loss occurs within the first year after tooth loss, it is important to place implants within this time period.
Is a complete set of dental implants a good solution for edentulism?
Yes, it can be a good solution, but it is not for everyone. Some patients, who have lost a great deal of bone support, need another solution for cosmetic reasons that offer more facial support like an implant overdenture. In addition, depending on their resources and insurance, some people require a less expensive solution.
Why does the two-implant overdenture work better for the lower jaw?
Based on differences in bone volume, density and other factors, we think that four to six implants are needed to retain an upper implant overdenture. Thus a two-implant overdenture is a good solution to consider for a lower jaw, but other options might be preferred for an upper jaw.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dentures and implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implant Overdentures for the Lower Jaw.”
When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, we have numerous techniques that we can use to produce a dazzling smile while restoring or helping you maintain optimal oral health. From tooth whitening and gum contouring to bonding and veneers, see how much you really know about cosmetic dentistry by playing our matching game.Words to match:
- Enamel shaping
- Crowns and bridgework
- Gum contouring
- ______ is a minor surgical procedure in which we alter the position of the gum tissue and sometimes even the underlying bone.
- ______ is a treatment option that is not permanent and may require several applications to achieve the desired color results.
- ______ is a restorative technique that involves applying an a tooth colored filling material (composite resin) to a tooth that is color-matched and shaped to restore a decayed or damaged tooth.
- ______ is a treatment option for restoring heavily damaged teeth or replacing missing teeth.
- ______ is a procedure in which small amounts of enamel, a tooth's outer layer, is removed to reshape it to improve the look of a tooth.
- ______ is a minor cosmetic procedure in which we apply a peroxide-based material to bleach out minor stains and discoloration from teeth.
- ______ is a procedure in which we permanently replace a missing tooth by attaching a crown (artificial tooth) to a titanium post that has been surgically placed within the jaw.
- ______ is a treatment option in which teeth are aligned into a proper position giving a more attractive appearance. It is often used in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures.
- ______ is a cosmetic technique where we place a custom-designed, thin shell of tooth-colored material (usually porcelain) to the front surface of a tooth.
- ______ is the most common technique for repairing chipped, broken or decayed teeth. It may also be used to alter the shape of a small or irregular tooth.
Answers: 1) H. 2) A. 3) B. 4) F. 5) C. 6) A. 7) G. 8) D. 9) E. 10) B
To learn more about cosmetic and restorative dentistry, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions.